Sun, Feb 19, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Tax incentives could lure refugees to return: OECD

Thomson Reuters Foundation, NEW YORK

Refugees and migrants from developing nations could be tempted to return home if exempted from paying taxes on their savings and given opportunities to build on their foreign experience, an intergovernmental think-tank said in a major report on Friday.

The recommendations are among proposals put forward by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to encourage the return of refugees from poor countries.

The number of international refugees and migrants has doubled in the past quarter century, reaching 240 million, the 35-nation economic policy body said in its report launched in New York.

The study by the OECD’s Development Centre urged poor countries to invest in policies that can lure back citizens and convince them to stay.

“Return migration is a largely underexploited resource,” the report said. “With the right policies in place, return migrants can invest financial capital in business start-ups and self-employment and have the potential to transfer the skills and knowledge acquired abroad.”

The OECD researchers found that attracting back migrants who had gained experience or education abroad was a top economic priority for governments in the 10 countries they examined.

The study looked at Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Morocco, Georgia, Armenia, Cambodia and the Philippines.

It said measures which could persuade migrants to return included abolishing taxes on savings they bring home, providing opportunities to use skills acquired abroad, offering refresher courses to help them re-enter the job market and boosting social and health services.

Researchers said the decision of returning migrants to remain in their home country was directly related to how much the authorities spent on public welfare.

In Costa Rica, which had the highest relative spending on social and health services — about 16 percent of GDP — 95 percent of migrants who had returned home said they intended to stay, according to the study.

By comparison, 64 percent of returnees wanted to stay in the Philippines, where authorities spend about 2 percent of the country’s GDP on public-welfare services.

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